Issues in Progress
At the Feb. 18 Council meeting, Provost Billy Frye concluded a series of
discussions begun last fall on the University strategic plan that Frye is
preparing. Frye and Council members discussed the final element being considered
in the preparation of the plan: advancing Emory's external relationships.
Frye said that a thoughtful consideration of Emory's external relationships
is crucial because so many people in American academia "are still holding
on to the image of [colleges and universities] as being very insular."
The area that sparked the most discussion was the question of whether Emory
should be more deliberate about promoting the work of its public scholars
in an effort to share knowledge more directly with the public. "There
is often a great deal of ambivalence about whether that kind of work is
appropriate [for a university to promote]," Frye said.
Frye wondered whether the School of Medicine's popular new community education
program, called Mini-Medical School, could be used as a model by other schools
and programs to make their work more accessible to the public.
Nanette Wenger expressed strong support for the idea, particularly its potential
in the areas of law and business. Wenger said that academia must ask itself
whether sharing information directly with the public constitutes a new kind
of scholarship distinct from traditional scholarship, in which scholars
share information with colleagues in their particular guild. "Most
universities and tenure and promotions committees have traditionally looked
down at it," Wenger said.
"If universities don't share what they do in a way that the public
can understand," said Harriet King, "the public will cease to
Rebecca Chopp agreed. "The public is already demanding this of universities,
that they stop living in this cocoon of isolation," she said.
Randall Strahan brought up the importance of faculty being willing and able
to interact effectively with the news media as a crucial step in sharing
Emory's work with the public. Sidney Perkowitz agreed and raised the possibility
of Emory's sponsoring an annual seminar at the Conference Center/Hotel for
journalists covering higher education. Perkowitz also stressed the importance
of faculty teaching students to communicate effectively about their work,
including dealing with the media.
Council President Luke Johnson said he hopes the University will continue
to support its most active and visible public scholars and find ways of
encouraging other scholars to share their work more broadly.
Prior to the strategic plan discussion, Nanette Wenger, chair of the Faculty
Life Course Committee, gave a preliminary report on her committee's work.
The report outlined three recommendations:
· Develop a research proposal for a study of Emory faculty that would
address questions of: how competing pressures of academic life have changed
in the past few decades and whether those changes vary across the faculty
life cycle; how faculty demographics have changed over time; and how faculty
assess the internal and external resources for improving their productivity.
· Create a subcommittee of the Council to study the potential expanded
role of emeritus faculty, including questions concerning the types of scholarly
activities faculty approaching retirement age would like to pursue after
retirement; the legal ramifications of retired faculty remaining active
in University life while still receiving the benefits of retirement (TIAA/CREF
support, etc.); how deans and department chairs view the potential role
of emeritus faculty and whether they would negotiate the specifics of such
roles prior to retirement; and how the issue is viewed by active faculty
· Further address the issues of attaining academic excellence, balancing
teaching and research and fostering interdisciplinary activities by: asking
faculty what facilities and resources the University can make to improve
the infrastructure for faculty life and determining whether the choices
articulated vary with faculty level; and forming a multigenerational faculty
committee to define a "wish list" for University investment in
the infrastructure that is designed specifically to enhance faculty productivity.
Both Frye and Johnson recommended tabling discussion and action on the proposal
until it is presented to the deans and they have an opportunity to react.
Frye said that seeking the input of the deans up front will help avoid any
redundant efforts in other parts of the University. Johnson asked Wenger
and her committee to present a more detailed report, along with reaction
from the deans, at the Council's April meeting.
In other business, Mel Lockhart, vice provost for academic enrollment and
planning, gave an overview of the 1997-98 general and educational budget,
which was recently approved by the Board of Trustees. Full coverage of the
budget will appear in the March 3 edition of Emory Report.
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